Career growth is all about playing your strengths but when you suffer a career setback, it’s mostly because of some recurring, innate habits that are hindering your growth. According to an HBR article, psychologists Eric Nelson and Robert Hogan noted that it’s mostly the dysfunctional habits that “interfere with the leader’s capacity to build and maintain high-performing teams.” There is more recent research conducted on this that supports and rather expands on this finding.
Oftentimes when a team is off track, it is a leader’s unchecked recurring tendency or habit that hinders the overall team’s success and therefore the leader’s career growth.
In the HBR article, emphasis is put on the “dark-side” personality traits that make employees, and specifically managers, less effective. Moreover, there maybe habits and behaviours that have proven successful and productive in the past but are now hindering growth. For instance, avoiding a conflict as a child may have saved you trouble but won’t work in the professional environment anymore. Similarly, striving for perfection may have helped you achieve the impossible in the past but it now, it may impact your and your team’s productivity.
These recurring habits are also referred to as ‘derailers’ by some psychologists. However, emotionally intelligent and strategic leaders know how to keep themselves and their team on track, and overcome the “derailers”, every time they are triggered.
Here are 5 common habits that may be hindering your career growth and how to overcome them.
Unpredictable emotional responses, for instance anger and frustration, or jumping onto a new, risky idea without weighing the pros and cons, can be a harmful habit that often leads your team off track and makes you lose support and buy-in.
If impulsiveness is one of the derailers you are facing, start by taking out time to reflect on past successes and failures and consider what you missed in your haste. Everytime you feel this feeling setting in, try to control and write down what problems it can cause in the future.
2. Conflict avoidance
Conflict avoidance isn’t always about escaping from making or confronting the difficult decision, oftentimes, people are trying to escape reality and mask their insecurities or fears, or mistakes.
When you feel this derailer setting in, seek advice on how to confront the issue. If there is something that makes you anxious or nervous, start by making a written plan. It’s always best to respond to the situation in person. The problem can also be discussed and solved by coaching and training.
3. Striving for Perfection
Striving to achieve what’s perfect is good, but it adds to inefficiency when you miss deadlines and opportunities. Managers often fail to submit the work on time, simply because they don’t see it good enough and feel there is room for improvement.
In such a case, the solution is to focus on confirming standards with others. Look out for their feedback on expected timelines, costs, results, etc, rather than going for the extremely high results that you have manufactured in your head because of your “perfectionism” derailer.
4. Playing the Blame Game
This is the most common habit witnessed in the corporate world, often leading to poor problem-solving and a lack of innovation. People who play the blame game often exaggerate the negative and make themselves look like the victim – they try to pass the problem on to different departments, managers or colleagues.
The only way to overcome this harmful habit is to move into problem-solving mode and learn from your failures.
5. Controlling Instincts
You might feel you are avoiding failure but your team mates start doubting themselves when your controlling instinct kicks in. Coming off as rigid and controlling makes you micromanage everything, and often times you take on responsibilities of your team mates onto yourself.
In extreme cases, employees who work for a controlling leader stop offering creative ideas and stop taking initiatives- they feel their ideas aren’t good enough and often end up quitting, because they feel they are unable to develop skills anymore.
If you feel your controlling instinct kicking in, try considering spaced out check ins and communicating more with your team mates.
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